Things to Do

Climate Solutions, New Art, and Space Exploration: Things to Do in DC, February 16-17

Plus: Saying goodbye to two music legends.

Illustration by Hannah Good.

Hey y’all!

We’ve got climate crisis solutions, a new home show, and a talk about the internet.

Is there life on Mars? We talked to someone who’s looking into it.

Here’s what you should check out this (short) week:

The matrix: The internet is maybe, possibly, probably melting our brains. In her debut novel, No One Is Talking About This, poet Patricia Lockwood writes an autofictional account of a viral influencer who is consumed in “the portal” (a.k.a. the internet). Family tragedy snaps the protagonist out of the endless scrolling fog to face the harsh reality beyond her screens. Lockwood, who’s been called “the poet laureate of Twitter,” will chat with New Yorker staff writer Jia Tolentino in this virtual Politics and Prose event. Tuesday 2/16 at 6 PM; Free to $32.99 (book included), buy tickets here.

Chat climate: Bill Gates just released How to Avoid a Climate Disaster: The Solutions We Have and the Breakthroughs We Need, an urgent book that details how he thinks we can eliminate greenhouse gas emissions. Gates will chat with actor and activist Rashida Jones about climate change and the solutions that he puts forth in a virtual talk from Sixth & I. Wednesday 2/17 at 7 PM; $35 (book included), buy tickets here.

Subterranean fun: Over the weekend, Dupont Underground opened “The February Install,” a new exhibit of installations, media projections, and performances from local Black artists and organizations. Walk through the artwork expressing the show’s four themes: joy, beauty, transformation, and unapologetic. Masks and ticket reservations required. Catch the show on the weekends of February 19-21 and 26-28; $8, buy tickets here.

A new show: If you’re in the “staring at aspirational homes on Zillow” phase of the pandemic, there’s a local series that might satisfy your voyeuristic curiosity. WETA’s If You Lived Here looks inside homes and apartments in the DC area; it’s part house porn, part tour of DC neighborhood history and culture. Learn more about it here.

Your favorite spot: What’s your go-to neighborhood spot? Instead of our annual Best Restaurants issue, Washingtonian put together a collection of more than 60 neighborhood restaurants that have been reliable faves with the best hometown vibes.

Infinity and beyond: Mars scientist Sarah Stewart Johnson wrote about the search for life on the red planet, and Washingtonian politics and culture editor Rob Brunner chatted with her about what space exploration means for how we understand human life. One image I couldn’t get out of my mind after I read the interview was this little plant surviving on a volcano in Hawaii: “I was up on this completely lifeless summit of a volcano, and then there was this fern that should not have been able to survive in those conditions. But there it was, vibrant and fighting against the void. I just found it magical. There really was something in that moment that made me become a planetary scientist. The idea of looking out into the dark night, trying to find the equivalent [of the fern]: something that was surviving against all odds. That’s what life is, in a lot of ways—this pushing back against the emptiness.” Read the full interview here.

Saying goodbye: 

Me, listening to Johnny Pacheco.
In the past week, two music icons died: jazz pianist Chick Corea and salsa legend Johnny Pacheco. My family is full of both jazz and salsa enthusiasts, so naturally we’ve been talking about the amazing impact of Corea’s fusion-focused fingers and Pacheco’s all-star salsa success. My father recently showed me this amazing video of Corea performing with Bobby McFerrin at France’s Jazz à Vienne that I just had to share. McFerrin’s ethereal voice and skillful scat—apologies if I sound like Ryan Gosling in La La Land—meets Corea’s famous hit “Spain” in this awesome rendition.

Pacheco in particular is a seminal figure in Latin music, co-founding the famous Fania Records, which cultivated talent like Celia Cruz, Héctor Lavoe, Willie Colón, and other phenomenal salseros. The composer, band leader, and multi-instrumentalist was a major force in making salsa what it is today. To get a taste of the kind of energy Pacheco and his crew brought to the stage, I’d recommend this clip from the 1974 Fania All Stars “Live in Africa” show, when they played to a crowd of 80,000 in what’s now the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Though I never saw Pacheco live (I’m some 20 years too young), my parents tell me that as a baby I got to meet him when, coincidentally, we went to the same physical therapist in Northern New Jersey—he apparently loved playing with me. (Yes this is a baby brag, I’m not sorry.)

I’m immensely grateful for the contributions both Corea and Pacheco have made to American music. Have any favorite tracks from these artists? Let me know, I’d love to hear them!

Thanks for reading! Tell me what you’re up to at home by dropping me a line at rcartagena@washingtonian.com.

Web Producer/Writer

Rosa joined Washingtonian in 2016 after graduating from Mount Holyoke College. She covers arts and culture for the magazine. She’s written about anti-racism efforts at Woolly Mammoth Theatre, dinosaurs in the revamped fossil hall at the Smithsonian’s Natural History Museum, and the horrors of taking a digital detox. When she can, she performs with her family’s Puerto Rican folkloric music ensemble based in Jersey City. She lives in Adams Morgan.